For Immediate Release :
March 24, 2016
Contact: Greg Weatherford
RICHMOND — In a sharp reversal of recent funding trends, higher education in Virginia would receive an additional $313 million in the two-year budget approved by the General Assembly, according to an analysis by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.
SCHEV council members heard updates on the General Assembly session at their regular meeting, held Tuesday at the College of William & Mary.
The 2016-18 budget, created in conference by the state House and Senate, awaits Governor Terry McAuliffe’s proposed amendments and will be completed by the General Assembly in April.
“This is a strong statement that Virginia is reinvesting in higher education,” said G. Gilmer Minor III, chair of SCHEV, the state agency that coordinates all public and private colleges and universities in Virginia. “The governor and General Assembly recognize how important our colleges, universities and workforce training are to the state’s economy and wellbeing.”
It is particularly good news to students and families, Minor added, since the additional state funds should reduce pressure on institutions to raise tuition: “We could see the lowest rate of tuition increases in 15 years.”
Seven of the prior nine budget years since the 2008 recession included cuts in higher-education funding. By contrast, in the 2016 budget session the General Assembly included an approximate 6 percent increase for higher education over two years, SCHEV financial analysts determined.
“This budget underlines the importance of higher education to all of Virginia and all of its citizens,” said John Broderick, president of Old Dominion University and chair of the Council of Presidents, which includes all presidents and chancellors of public colleges and universities in Virginia. “It will support research, learning and economic development that will have impact far beyond our laboratories and classrooms.”
The investments align closely with The Virginia Plan for Higher Education, approved by SCHEV in 2014. The dozens of state investments range widely, from the development of new programs for workforce training to a 3 percent increase in salaries to funding for computers and research equipment. They are to be funded through a variety of means including the state general fund and bond sales.
SCHEV's analysis of additional higher-education funding in the 2016-18 budget includes, among others:
• $104 million to help more Virginians enter, afford and succeed in higher education, with an emphasis on minimizing increases in undergraduate tuition and fees.
• $56 million in additional financial aid for undergraduates and graduates.
• $20 million more for new equipment such as computers and research equipment through the bond-supported Higher Education Equipment Trust Fund, making the $168 million total allocation the largest in the fund’s 30-year history.
• $22 million in incentives to recruit high-performing researchers, particularly in bioscience, and to create centers for collaboration and commercialization of their work.
• $12.5 million for SCHEV to create and oversee a workforce-training program for public two-year transfer and community colleges and higher-education centers that will be the first of its kind in the United States, including grants for noncredit courses such as industry credentials and certifications.
• $2 million more in tuition-assistance grants for undergraduates in private nonprofit colleges and universities.
College and university appropriations also include $64 million per year in previously allocated central-account funds.
SCHEV is the commonwealth’s coordinating body for Virginia’s system of higher education. The agency provides policy guidance and budget recommendations to the governor and General Assembly, and is a resource for information on higher education issues. With The Virginia Plan for Higher Education, SCHEV aims to make Virginia the best-educated state in the nation by 2030.
For more information, contact Greg Weatherford, associate for communications and outreach, at (804) 786-2323 or email@example.com.
More on The Virginia Plan is available here: www.schev.edu/TheVirginiaPlan
View full summary of the budget report.